Steve Brodner, David Courtney & Andrea Valdez, and Bryan Curtis
For his sketchbook of the Capitol (“Austin Powers,”), New York–based illustrator Steve Brodner spent ten days wandering around the statehouse during the legislative session, talking to lawmakers and constituents and snapping photos on which to base his drawings. “Illustration is about finding the places where story and image blend,” he says. “Faces are interesting because of the stories behind them.” Brodner has visited Texas on assignment for Texas Monthly twice before. “There’s a genuine warmth here that’s different from New York City,” he says. “You ask people questions, and they give you a sincere answer.”
The fact checkers at Texas Monthly are legendary for their unwavering commitment to accuracy (read: we’re terrified of them), and it’s always refreshing when they have a chance to step into the spotlight. This month, two of them begin writing regular pieces for Reporter. Assistant editor David Courtney, a Temple native who still carries a 1-iron in his golf bag, joined the staff in October 2005. He’s the brains behind The Texanist, which answers readers’ burning questions. Editorial assistant Andrea Valdez, a Houston native who makes a mean bowl of chili (without beans, of course), has been with the magazine for nine months. She’s writing The Manual, a “how to” guide to the finer points of life.
Sure, there’s the fact that he’s obsessed with sports, or that he grew up a Texas Rangers fan, or that he’s reported on the NFL and the NBA for such publications as Slate and the New York Times’ quarterly Play. But ask Bryan Curtis about what shapes his writing, and he’ll point to his roots: As a student years ago at Fort Worth’s Paschal High School, he walked the same halls as distinguished alums Dan Jenkins and Bud Shrake. “They went from working for their high school newspaper to big-time careers at Sports Illustrated,” says Texas Monthly’s newest writer-at-large, who now lives in New York. “I’ve always wanted to follow in the massive footsteps of these sportswriter greats.” You might say Curtis is on the right path with his new Reporter column, The Cheap Seats, which debuts this month.